Following the thrills and spills of the 1st round of the KNVB Beker, the sixth round of action in the Dutch top flight belatedly got underway in Tilburg where unbeaten Heerenveen came from behind to take all three points and temporarily go two points clear at the top of the standings.
Despite racing into a twelfth minute lead when Elmo Lieftink slid home a Freek Heerkens cross from the right, hosts, Willem II were ultimately unable to build upon securing their first points of the campaign last time out against rock-bottom, Roda JC – Stijn Schaars bending a beautifully taken free kick from just outside the area beyond the despairing dive of Timon Wellenreuther to get the visitors back onto level terms on the stroke of half time.
Buoyed by their equaliser, Jurgen Streppel’s men re-emerged for the second half with an added spring in their step and found what ultimately proved to be the winner just short of the hour mark through Yuki Kobayashi – visiting skipper, Schaars finding the Japanese international with time and space to beat Wellenreuther with a spectacular effort from just outside the area.
Having seen their 100% start to their Eredivisie title defence go up in smoke last time out in Eindhoven, Feyenoord, who saw off ADO Den Haag in the 1st round of the KNVB Beker on Wednesday evening, were looking to get their title charge back on track against newly promoted NAC Breda, who were sent tumbling out of the competition at the hands of third tier amateurs, Achilles ’29 on the same night.
However, despite a Jan-Arie van der Heijden header grazing the top of Mark Birighitti’s crossbar eleven minutes in following a Jean-Paul Boëtius corner from the right, incredibly, it was the visitors who would break the deadlock in front of a stunned home crowd – on loan Manchester City forward, Thierry Ambrose heading a Menno Koch flick-on following a high hanging punt into the area from fellow City loanee, Angelino into the path of an unmarked Giovanni Korte for the 24-year-old to slide the ball past an exposed Brad Jones twelve minutes before the break.
Having gone in a goal-down, the home side re-emerged with renewed purpose and went close to restoring parity when Sofyan Amrabat’s diving header cannoned off a stranded Birighitti’s crossbar on the hour mark seconds after the visitor’s Australian stopper had initially denied Feyenoord’s marauding left back, Miquel Nelom with a smart stop at his near post.
However, when referee, Jochem Kamphuis handed the home side a penalty seventeen minutes from time following a coming together between Amrabat and Mounir El Allouchi as the two battled to get onto the end of a corner from the left by second half substitute, Sam Larsson, it appeared as though the hosts were set to restore parity until Michiel Kramer saw his spot-kick saved by the impressive Birighitti, who was then up quickly to deny Tonny Vilhena as he attempted to tuck in the rebound.
Try as they might, Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side, who make the tricky trip to face unbeaten Serie A leaders, Napoli on Tuesday evening in their latest UEFA Champions League assignment, failed to find an equaliser and, when Feyenoord ‘keeper Jones made an uncharacteristic error with the ball at his feet that allowed Danish substitute, Thomas Enevoldsen to steal in and roll the ball into an empty net three minutes from time it was Stijn Vreven’s side who were able to celebrate the club’s first ever Eredivisie victory over Feyenoord at De Kuip.
At the same time, Heracles left it late to secure their first league win since the opening day of the season.
However, having belatedly secured their first win of the season by hitting fourth tier outfit, Capelle for five in the 1st round of the KNVB Beker on Wednesday evening, pointless Roda JC arrived in Almelo with renewed confidence and, despite seeing Jamiro Monteiro strike the foot of Hidde Jurjus’ right hand upright with just three minutes gone, it was the away side who took the lead five minutes in when Mitchel Paulissen glanced home an Ard van Peppen cross from the left.
Having gone in at the break trailing, John Stegeman’s side re-emerged for the second half with renewed purpose and were back on level terms just six minutes after the restart – Robin Pröpper volleying home a Monteiro cross from close range just seconds after heading the ball against Jurjus’ right hand upright as the away side struggled to clear their lines following a Brahim Darri corner from the left.
Having snapped a two-game losing streak of their own by dispatching Tweede Divisie side, Rijnsburgse Boys in the cup on Tuesday evening, the hosts continued to press for a winner which eventually arrived in the third minute of added time through second half substitute, Vincent Vermeij – Reuven Niemeijer pulling the ball back for the former De Graafschap forward to poke the ball past ex-team-mate, Jurjus from close range.
Saturday’s Eredivisie action was concluded in The Hague where a solitary strike from ADO Den Haag’s Abdenasser El Khayati ultimately proved enough to see off the challenge of Sparta Rotterdam – the former QPR midfielder rounding off a swift counter attack by the hosts by bamboozling Sherel Floranus before poking the ball between the Sparta full back’s legs and beyond Roy Kortsmit to bag his third goal in his last three games five minutes into the second half.
Despite being largely second best throughout and having been bundled out of the cup at the hands of Eerste Divisie outfit, RKC Waalwijk on Tuesday evening, a third defeat in as many games may have been avoided for Alex Pastoor’s side had Robert Muhren’s strike from just outside the area fourteen minutes from time found the net instead of the foot of Kortsmit’s left hand upright.
Sunday’s Eredivisie action began with a bang at the Stadion Galgenwaard where undermanned hosts, FC Utrecht were remarkably hit for seven by a rampant PSV Eindhoven.
Despite the end result, it was the hosts who were first to threaten when Cyriel Dessers crashed a half volley off Dutch international ‘keeper, Jeroen Zoet’s crossbar after being sent clear by a long, raking ball from Urby Emanuelson with just nine minutes on the clock.
Having been lucky to escape falling behind just six minutes earlier, the visitors, buoyed by their victory over reigning Eredivisie champions, Feyenoord last time out and galvanised by their title rival’s surprise loss at the hands of NAC Breda the day before, broke the deadlock on the quarter hour – Jürgen Locadia tucking the ball into an empty net after David Jensen had initially done well to deny Hirving Lozano just seconds earlier after the Mexican international had been sent clear by Derrick Luckassen.
However, the home side were back on level terms just six minutes later when referee, Serdar Gözübüyük awarded the hosts a penalty after adjudging Nicolas Isimat-Mirin to have drug fellow countryman, Jean-Christophe Bahebeck to the ground, leaving Zakaria Labyad to step up and tuck away the resultant spot-kick.
Despite finding themselves pegged back, the visitors would restore their advantage five minutes before the break – Locadia capitalising on a poor piece of control by Sander van de Streek to steal in on the left before picking out an unmarked Lozano at the back post for the 22-year-old to roll the ball into an empty net before the Mexican later returned the favour by sending Locadia clear to make it three for the away side four minutes into the second half.
Locadia would claim his hat-trick with twenty two minutes left to play – Jorrit Hendrix releasing the 23-year-old down the right with an incisive through-ball from inside his own half to first out-pace and then beat Sean Klaiber before rifling the ball beyond the outstretched hand of Jensen.
The away side were gifted the opportunity to make it five when referee, Gözübüyük ruled that Edson Braafheid had tripped a marauding Joshua Brenet inside the area leaving PSV skipper, Marco van Ginkel to dispatch the resultant spot-kick ten minutes from time.
Things went from bad to worse for Erik ten Hag’s side who then saw substitute, Giovanni Troupee given his marching orders by Gözübüyük six minutes from time despite having been on the field for just thirteen minutes after the young full back sent Lozano flying in the box as the Mexican attempted to latch onto a through-ball from substitute, Steven Bergwijn, leaving Locadia to convert the resultant spot-kick and claim his fourth of the afternoon and PSV’s sixth.
There was still time for the visitors to inflict yet more misery on their beleaguered hosts – Bergwijn skipping his way through the home side’s ineffectual rear guard to add number seven for Cocu’s men in the 90th minute, leaving PSV a point clear at the top of the standings.
Elsewhere, newly promoted VVV Venlo came from behind for the third successive week to earn another priceless point, this time at the expense of visitors, PEC Zwolle.
John van ‘t Schip’s side arrived in Limburg on the back of two straight victories in league and cup and took the lead on the half hour mark through Kingsley Ehizibue, who stabbed a Nicolas Freire knock-down from a Youness Mokhtar corner from the left past an exposed Lars Unnerstall from the edge of the box.
However, the resilience of Maurice Steijn’s side that had seen them snatch late draws against both FC Groningen and Vitesse Arnhem in each of their last two league outings came to the fore once more when Clint Leemans’ free-kick from just outside the area found the top right hand corner of Diederik Boer’s net twenty one minutes from time.
The home side might have even snatched all three points with four minutes left to play but, having seized upon a rare moment of indecision by New Zealand international, Ryan Thomas, second half substitute, Vito van Crooij was denied by Boer who stood tall to repel the 21-year-old who seemed set to secure all three points for the home side after having found himself away and clear with only the visitor’s veteran ‘keeper to beat.
At the same time a lone Oussama Idrissi header six minutes into the second half ultimately proved enough to seal all three points for hosts, FC Groningen in their clast with FC Twente at the Noordlease Stadion – the 21-year-old pouncing to nod home Peet Bijen’s attempted block of a Ritsu Doan effort from just outside the box.
Meanwhile, in their second trip to Amsterdam in the space of four days, cup holders Vitesse Arnhem went some way to erasing their shock exit from this year’s competition at the hands of Amsterdam-based fifth tier outfit, AVV Swift on Wednesday evening by inflicting a first home defeat of the campaign on a below par Ajax.
The away side arrived in Amsterdam with a point to prove and took the lead in the 21st minute through Guram Kashia – the visiting skipper out-muscling, Nick Viergever to head a Thomas Bruns free kick beyond the reach of Andre Onana.
Henk Fraser’s side, who face a tricky trip to Nice – who knocked Ajax out of the 3rd qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League earlier in the campaign, in their latest UEFA Europa League assignment on Thursday evening, would then double their advantage in the third minute of added time at the end of the first half – Kosovar international, Milot Rashica cutting inside Mitchell Dijks before slamming the ball hard and low past Onana after being sent clear by Tim Matavz.
The home side emerged for the second half with renewed purpose and very nearly clawed one back when Klaas-Jan Huntelaar turned a low Justin Kluivert cross from the right onto the outside of Remko Pasveer’s right hand upright nineteen minutes into the second half.
Despite Viergever eventually cutting the away side’s advantage in half seven minutes from time – the Dutch international ghosting in to head home a Hakim Ziyech cross from close range, the hosts failed to avert a first home defeat in the league since Willem II bagged all three points at the Amsterdam ArenA on 20th August 2016.
Sunday’s Eredivisie action was concluded at the AFAS Stadion where two early spot-kicks by Luigi Bruins saw Excelsior snap a run of five games without a win in all competitions by claiming all three points from their clash with in-form AZ Alkmaar.
The game was just 24 seconds old when referee, Kevin Blom pointed to the spot after a combination of Jonas Svensson and Guus Til sent Bruins tumbling inside the area leaving the former Feyenoord man to dust himself down and send Marco Bizot the wrong way with two minutes gone.
Remarkably, just six minutes later it was a case of déjà vu as the visitors then doubled their advantage when Blom adjudged Ron Vlaar to have pulled Kevin Vermeulen to the ground inside the area, leaving Bruins to once more send Bizot the wrong way from the resultant spot-kick.
Things might have been different for the home side, who came into this match on the back of five successive victories in all competitions, had their in-form forward Wout Weghorst managed to put away a guilt-edged chance with the goal at his mercy instead of slamming the ball against the underside of Ögmundur Kristinsson’s crossbar with the Iceland international stranded after denying first, Fred Friday and then Alireza Jahanbakhsh in quick succession six minutes into the second half.
In the end luck just wasn’t with the home side who again went close when Feyenoord loanee, Marko Vejinovic curled a free kick from just outside the area through the Excelsior wall and onto the foot of Kristinsson’s right hand upright nine minutes from time.
Results: Week 6
Willem II 1-2 SC Heerenveen
Feyenoord 0-2 NAC Breda
Heracles 2-1 Roda JC
ADO Den Haag 1-0 Sparta Rotterdam
FC Utrecht 1-7 PSV Eindhoven
VVV Venlo 1-1 PEC Zwolle
FC Groningen 1-0 FC Twente
AFC Ajax 1-2 Vitesse Arnhem
AZ Alkmaar 0-2 Excelsior
Click on Steven’s name above to follow him on Twitter